Comment below posted to Paddy Johnson's blog, in response to two threads about an upcoming Guggenheim "YouTube show."
Briefly the museum isn't scouring the 'Tube but asking for artists to send "new YouTubes," and the show is in effect a collaboration among the museum, Hewlett Packard, which will be providing gear and "technical advice," and Google. Johnson questioned the credentials of the standard "video art" curators to judge YouTubes (because the platform is a web meme factory, a slightly different animal from "video art") and offered substitute judges, including me (I would be great because I basically hate YouTube).
The question under consideration is whether YouTube is just a delivery system for "video art" of the established, Nam Jun Paik variety, or whether it’s a culture unto itself that curators should be learning about. By culture I don't mean "digital culture" in the starry-eyed Nicholas Negroponte sense of an evolving hive mind but a culture in the Margaret Mead sense of a group with its own mores, which may or may not mature into a canon with critics, philosophers, checks, balances, etc.* According to the New York Times, Hewlett Packard will be collaborating on the project "to teach skills like editing, animation and lighting to the video-naïve," and as noted by NYC the Blog, the YouTube platform has company rules and acts as a censor independent of the museum. All this suggests that YouTube will be thought of in its original, intended, non-vernacular sense as a place to find "new talent" for art and TV, even though, over the years, the YouTube "street has found its own uses for things," in William Gibson's phrase. James Kalm mentions several of those; I noted in the earlier thread that YouTube is becoming a substitute iTunes, with people posting their favorite obscure song with a single still image for the consideration of the site’s talkative commenters. (I've been calling the site "America's Jukebox.") Will that and other "pirate" uses of YT–-such as OAVs or "original anime videos" featuring anime clips recut with new music–-be reflected in the Guggenheim's filtered call for entries? Doubtful--the YouTube competition will ultimately be WhateverWeSayTube.
*forum culture, in Beau Siever's phrase